The landscape of gaming has changed dramatically since its inception in the 1950s. Games started in the arcade and with simple home consoles.
During the golden age of gaming in the eighties, we saw the emergence of online gaming. But they would not quite capture the interest of the public, especially due to the video game crash of 1983.
It will take a decade and a half and several generations of consoles for online gaming to gain its much-needed traction. By the 2000s, and with the arrival of the sixth generation consoles, the internet became a major aspect of gaming culture.
These days, the online gaming market is worth more than US$30 billion and appears to be increasing each year.
But it’s not all fun and games in the world of online gaming. In fact, it is fraught with risks as well. News of security breaches has become quite common, especially now that more and more people are playing games online. In fact, early this year, news of 80 million vulnerable player accounts on Fortnite came to light.
The following are some cybersecurity risks that online gamers might encounter.
1. Account Hacking—If your account has been hacked and taken over, cybercriminals can sell it to other interested users. Depending on your account, the price could range from US$5 to US$15,000.
2. Virtual Economy Hacking—With the use of bots, hackers can tweak the value of resources within a game. They then make money on these resources by selling them to unwitting players.
3. Console Hacking—When a console is hacked, the player’s personal information becomes vulnerable. Cybercriminals use this method to gain credit card information, account login and passwords, and other sensitive data that they can use to sell or do more illegal activities.
4. DDos Attack—A distributed denial of service attack allows hackers to throw players off their IP address. This is also done to hold a server or gaming platform hostage.
As an online player, what can you do to protect yourself? Should you stop playing online games altogether? Should you cancel your order of that custom gaming rig you’ve been dreaming about? You don’t really have to do something as drastic as that, especially if you enjoy online gaming. What you can do, however, is practice the following cybersecurity tips:
1. Protect Your Identity
As mentioned above, cybercriminals like to target personal data, which they can use on more nefarious activities. As an online gamer, take every step necessary to protect your identity. This can be as simple as using an avatar, not a real photo, to represent your profile.
With facial recognition software getting stronger, criminals can easily find out where you live, your social media accounts, and other personal data with the use of a single photo. Another way to protect your identity is to never, at all costs, share your birthday, credit card information, and other sensitive information.
Even if you think you know the ones asking, these personal details should never be divulged.
2. Keep Your System Secure
One great tip for keeping safe while playing online games is to have up-to-date software and operating system. Your PC gaming system should also be properly installed and protected with firewall and antivirus software. We found cybersecuritycourses.com who have a huge listing of courses available to the budding cyber security professional. Cyber security isn’t going away and this is an excellent area to get into should you have a technical background in IT. You might be tempted to disable the security software before playing to free up PC resources—do not do this if you wish to retain your online safety while playing.
3. Use a VPN
A vmware consulting IT firm defines a virtual private network as a software that encrypts your network. What it does is allows you to switch IP addresses so your real one remains safe and unbreached.
By using a VPN, your personal information will have another layer of protection. You can browse the internet and play games in an anonymous manner. People with malicious intent will have a harder time harvesting data from you.
4. Avoid Phishing
Perhaps one of the most abused methods through which cybercriminals steal data from online players is phishing. Because of your online activities, you will likely receive a lot of emails or social media promos regarding games.
Avoid opening attachments you receive from these messages. Before clicking on links, pop-ups, or downloads, make sure they are from an official website.
With that said, only download games or conduct transactions from games’ official websites or platforms.
5. Use Strong Passwords
This is a rule you should always follow, especially now that you live half of your life online. Avoid using the same password for all your accounts, whether gaming, social media, online communication, and others.
When games offer two-factor authentication, switch it on and use it.
6. Educate Young Players
If you have little ones who are turning out to be as big a fan of online games as you are, make sure they are aware of the risks too. You can choose to limit their gaming time so you can monitor their security better.
Another option is to have a central email address for online gaming that only adults can access.
Don’t let the dangers of online gaming stop you from having a good time. But don’t be complacent either.
Implement the tips above so you won’t have to worry about your security while enjoying online games.